Bringing Hope to Those In Despair and Poverty, From My Hometown of
Calcutta to the UK
The World Has Forgotten Them, But I Haven’t. Have You?
What would your life be like if you had to sleep every night a few steps from a public water spout? This is where poor street people come to bathe and wash dishes. Or what if you lived near a sewer hole?
When I was a child, my sister nearly fell into a smelly sewer hole that went far underground. She held on by white-knuckled fingertips until my father raced from our little room not far away to pull her out.
I lived this way for most of my childhood. Many today in Calcutta and India still do.
Extreme poverty is nothing new in India. And it’s a growing fear even in the UK, as more get left behind.
Urban slums like those in Calcutta, where I grew up, still ‘raise’ countless children who know nothing but hunger, filth, crime, desperation, and broken families. They grow up being written off by higher castes, not given opportunities, and living in conditions that would make most people sick.
How Extreme Poverty Infects Generations
When everyone lives like this, how does it affect a city? It affects every generation. It affects the day to day life, and the long term health of the community and ultimately the country.
That’s why in India today you’ll see skinny hungry children, and skinny hungry elderly people. You’ll see disabled people who can barely move fending for themselves on the streets. You’ll see grown men, young and old, pulling rickshaws for 12 hours a day and barely surviving on the wages.
Because they can barely sustain their own lives and those of their children, these men often can’t support their old aged parents or relatives. That’s one reason so many elderly and disabled get abandoned. It’s not always because people don’t care. Sometimes, they simply can’t afford to care.
For the same reason, if a kid gets sick with a disease like tuberculosis or thalassemia and all the complications those lead to if left untreated, their parents have nowhere to turn.
Because I grew up in this, I know it through my entire being. I didn’t just see it while on holiday. I lived it. I know the smells, the sounds, and the feeling of an always empty stomach.
And that’s why today, as an international and motivational speaker and philanthropist, I’ve made it my life mission to help the people living in the place I grew up. My work for Remedia has two major branches:
- 1) Meeting Immediate Needs
- 2) Changing Long Term Outlooks
Meeting Immediate Needs – Survival and Community
Our work with children covers everything – education at Happy Hearts learning centers, disease treatment, nourishment, and medical help. Whatever they need to have a chance at a better life, we provide.
We get them extra school help and supplies if their regular schools don’t help them (which is common if they’re in lower castes).
We help them get blood transfusions and treatments for diseases that would otherwise cripple their futures.
We help kids with autism learn and grow in ways they respond to. We help blind kids.
For the disabled and the elderly we have two separate charities, but both have a similar mission – keep people alive who have been abandoned or forgotten because they were too hard to care for. We give them food, teach them crafts, and give them a safe place to come and make new friends.
Changing Long Term Outlooks
Immediate needs are about saving lives. We simply want to keep people alive. But that’s not enough. We also want to remake the whole society that continues to produce this kind of suffering.
When I appear at public speaking events in the UK as well as India, this is usually my goal: To motivate people to change how they think about themselves and others. Our society will get better when each individual person changes for the better.
At Remedia, this same motivation drives three of our charities.
The E3 Job Growth program takes young people ages 14-30 who want something better out of life, and gives them a chance to get there. We teach job skills, life skills, public speaking skills, hygiene, and so much more to help young people who want better jobs.
We’ve helped dozens of young people get placed in jobs like hotel work, which is so much better than the backbreaking work of pulling rickshaws. Plus, it has a future. But to get there, they need help with their self-presentation and much more. And we need relationships with people in the business community to give our trainees their first chance at these better jobs.
E3 stands for Education, Empowerment, and Employability. And that’s what we’re starting to do for young men and women in Calcutta. As our program grows, we hope to expand it to other cities.
We have already expanded it to the UK, where I’ve begun doing workshops in schools in poor areas. We want students to understand that success depends on a continuous acquisition of skills, a refusal to give up, and a sustained personal confidence.
The Mother Teresa Award Project arose when we realized that women were being overlooked. The mothers of the kids in our other programs are often barely surviving and have few ways to change their future prospects.
This program empowers them with employable job skills as well as coaching and counseling to show them how to navigate the system successfully.
Lastly, the Empowering Girls program teaches young women how to protect themselves. Ayesha Noor, a 3-time gold medalist in karate, teaches karate to girls aged 8-20. India remains a very unsafe place for young women, and Ayesha’s first goal is to empower them with skills to defend themselves, because often no one else will.
Her second goal is to give them self-confidence that will spread to the other areas of their lives. Many of the girls in Ayesha’s karate classes are also in our E3 and children’s programs. So while we have five branches to our work, they are connected and have one central mission – to lift up the extreme poor from every generation.
If we weren’t there, supported by caring and generous donors, these kids, young people, disabled, and aged people would starve, wither, have no hope for the future, and in some cases just die alone.
Do You Want to Help Lift Up the Poor from Every Generation?
You’ve now seen a bit of what I do in India and the UK, and why I do it. I’m not a motivational speaker who grew up with role models and free time from which to develop my “program.” I grew up with nothing. My speaking program comes from my life and the lessons I’ve learned as I rose from destitution to a place of influence as an international speaker.
But now you know why I continue to pour countless hours and energy into Remedia. Because I used to live like these people still do, and I know how hard it is to have no hope, and to barely scrape by day after day. I also know that I can’t do this part of my work alone.
These kids, women, disabled, and elderly need your help as well as mine.
I would greatly appreciate your partnership with Remedia.
If you’d like to learn more, you can visit the Remedia website. Here are two ways you can take action:
Thank you for reading about this part of my life that is more important than any other.